Jeremiah 17-19

Two Paths

Chapter 17 begins with an illustration of how hard the people’s hearts had become toward God. In verse 2 we read that the children were used to seeing the idols and going to the high places with their fathers. At least three times in the Law God has said that the sins of the fathers would be passed on to their children. In Deuteronomy 6 the people were told to love the Lord and teach the law to their children but that is not what the people were doing. They were worshiping idols and teaching their children to do the same. They were following their heart but God makes it clear that the heart is deceitful in 17:9-11.

Also, in Chapter 17, God again sets before the people a blessing and a curse. The blessing is found in verses 7-11. This blessing does not mean all will go well. Jeremiah has been having a lot of resistance to his message. What it does mean is that whatever God has called us to do He will provide what we need to do it. God sends Jeremiah to the public gates to give the message God has given him. Jeremiah goes. Obedience follows faith.

In Chapter 18 the reference to Israel is to remind the people of Judah that when God sends prophets to warn the people of judgment that the judgment will come.

In Chapter 19 Jeremiah is sent to the valley of Ben-hinnom and the valley of Topheth which was within the valley of Ben-hinnom. Topheth was where Molech and Baal were worshiped. Baal was the Canaanite god of fertility, Molech was a Canaanite god associated with child sacrifice. Both king Ahaz and Manasseh sacrificed children there. Topheth means the beating of drums. The drumming was meant to drown out the screams of the children as they were being sacrificed. It was a place to be abhorred, a place where dead bodies were burned. King Josiah attempted to put an end to the practice by defiling the place by spreading human bones over the area. It became a cesspool for the city and a place where dead bodies were burned. God said He was changing the name of these valleys to the Valley of Slaughter. There will be a great slaughter of people when Judah is judged.

Time is very short now. The people were not listening to Jeremiah. God has instructed Jeremiah not to pray for them. God will continue to speak to the people through Jeremiah and warn of the consequences that are quickly approaching in hope that the people will repent, but it will have to be the pain of the consequences that will force the people to change.

In 1 Corinthians 5 we read of a man in the church who was involved in sexual sin and the church went along with it. Paul addressed this and in verse 6 we read, “I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” NASB

That is what God is doing here. The people are living in the ways of the world where sin abounds. The source of sin is Satan. Sin is never satisfied. Sin always wants more and more. It goes from extreme to more extreme. We feed the lust of the flesh with sin. Sin promises pleasure but there is a point where sin turns from pleasure to enslavement. There is a place where one abhors sin but finds it is in control and their life has become miserable.

The people have chosen to follow the ways of Satan. They have free will which means they have the freedom to choose God’s ways or Satan’s. Satan lies to us and says we have complete freedom. This is not the case. Every choice we make has a consequence. When people allow Satan to lead in their lives he will put them on the path of destruction. God has handed the people over to their desires. The child sacrifice that they are freely committing will lead them to sacrifice their children for food to survive when the city is under siege.  

People ask, “Why doesn’t God do something?” The fact is God has been doing something! That is what the Bible is all about. God is trying to turn the world from the road that leads to destruction, pain, and misery, to the road that leads to life. The people would not have it. They refused to listen. They rejected God.  God is not finished speaking. Indeed He is still speaking today.  The question is, are we listening?

Ben-hinnom will later be called Gehenna which is translated “hell.” Jesus said that hell was made for the devil and his angels. The path that leads there is wide. It can be avoided by listening to God and walking on His path.

We would be wise to listen to the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:13&14; John 10:1-18.

Pastor Dave